Family Fun and Learning in New York (page 2)
- Family Fun and Learning in New Jersey
- Family Fun and Learning in Ohio
- Plan on Pennsylvania for Family Fun and Learning
- Fun and Learning in Florida!
- Must-Sees in Michigan for Family Fun
- Kid-Friendly California Fun and Learning
It’s hard for many to believe, but the nonstop bustle of New York City is not the only attraction for families in the Empire State. There is open farmland, three major mountainous sections (Catskills, Adirondacks and Allegheny,) lakeside villages and plenty of cultural activity in smaller cities like Rochester and Albany. At every turn, kids can visit places that played key roles throughout centuries of American history. Here are our top picks for spots that will lay on the fun and learning in New York State.
1) Ellis Island – About 40 percent of the US population can trace their roots to one of the 12 million immigrants who came through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954. Now a part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, the park offers excellent guided or self-guided tours, activity sheets for kids, multimedia galleries, live theater productions based on oral histories (spring through fall) and a chance to research your own family at the American Family Immigration History Center.
2) New York State Museum – In the state capital of Albany, the history of New York is on display under one roof, including artifacts from the Adirondack wilderness, the Sesame Street set, a conserved and reassembled Cohoes mastodon and an exhibit on Harlem during its 1920s heyday.
3) Lincoln Center – A trove of incredible arts riches for children, the Center has Jazz for Young People concerts hosted by Wynton Marsalis, eclectic world music, dance and storytelling performances during August’s free Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the Midsummer Night’s Swing outdoor dance events, Young People’s Concerts with the New York Philharmonic, children’s workshops with the New York City Ballet and the Family Series with the New York City Opera.
4) FDR Home National Historic Site – The nation’s first presidential library is here at Hyde Park, home of the man who was elected to the Presidency four times, and who as a boy enjoyed building model ships and collecting coins and stamps. The grounds include several buildings like Top Cottage, where FDR escaped for maximum privacy, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s own escape hatch, Val-Kill. Kids 7-12 can join the site’s Junior Secret Service program.
5) United Nations Headquarters – Take a virtual tour online or visit the UN’s CyberSchoolBus Web site before taking the informative guided 45-minute tour. If the national flags are flying out front, the Assembly is in session. Member state art exhibits and delegates dressed in their traditional clothing add to the international atmosphere, as does a meal with the diplomats in the Delegate’s Dining Hall (make a reservation and enjoy international cuisine from member countries.)
6) Adirondack State Park – A massive state park encompassing over six million acres, the park offers spectacular natural scenery, sports opportunities (Lake Placid hosted two Winter Olympics), historic forts, robber baron “roughing it” at Great Camps like Sagamore, literary attractions like Almanzo Wilder’s “Farmer Boy” childhood home, a working 1812 farmstead in Willsboro and diving on historic wrecks in Lake George. The Saranac Lake area offers the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, an annual ice carving/winter festival and the nearby St. Regis Canoe Wilderness.
7) The Metropolitan Museum of Art – It’s hard to get your family’s up to speed with an art museum that is on par with the Louvre, but the Met tries, with Family Orientations to exhibits, Start with Art for ages 3-7, Art Mornings for Families and a kid-friendly cafeteria. Don’t miss the Costume Institute, the Impressionist Gallery, furniture rooms or the Temple of Dendur. The Met includes the medieval art branch at the Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, which invites young knights and damsels to participate in family workshops.
8) Women’s Rights National Historic Park – In Seneca Falls, Elizabeth Cady Stanton (who also raised seven children) and four other women organized the first women’s rights convention in July 1848, using Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence as a model for their Declaration of Sentiments. Convention Days special events are held each July. The organizers were also abolitionists and one of their houses was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Visit the National Women’s Hall of Fame in downtown Seneca Falls; it celebrates a wide variety of accomplished women throughout history.
9) American Museum of Natural History – The movie “Night at the Museum” put this place on the map for kids, and it’s almost as interesting in person (sorry, no rampaging animals, though). Must sees are the Rose Center for Earth and Space (what is your child’s weight on another planet?), the Hayden Planetarium, the Dinosaur and Mammals Halls, the African & Asian communities in the Culture Halls and the breathtaking Hall of Biodiversity.
10) Harlem Spirituals tours – Explore the diversity of Harlem and other New York boroughs on a guided tour by this well-established company. Older children in particular will enjoy a journey into African-American heritage, jazz, gospel, the Apollo Theater, Striver’s Row and taking the “A” train up to Sugar Hill.
11) Corning Museum of Glass – Founded in 1950, the Museum features much more than products and artifacts from the New York-based Corning company. Children will be enthralled by glassmaking demonstrations, the Magic of Glass Show and the chance to make their own clear treasures. Kids 19 and under are free.
12) Bronx Zoo – It’s the world’s largest urban zoo, with more than 4,000 animals in natural habitats that include an rainforest for troops of gorillas, Tiger Mountain with Siberian tigers (good to see in winter because they like cold weather) and an African savannah. There is a Children’s Zoo with Toddler Time Tuesdays to gently introduce the animal kingdom; make sure to leave for riding the bug-themed carousel.
13) Rochester – Trade, industry and the opening of the Erie Canal put Rochester on the map. Frederick Douglass is buried here; George Eastman of the Eastman Kodak Company and Susan B. Anthony both lived in the city and their homes are National Historic Landmarks. The Eastman House is also a museum of photography and film. The Genesee Country Village and living history museum bring the 19th century to life, and kids love the place that celebrates them: the Strong National Museum of Play, which features interactive games, a massive collection of historic toys and a Butterfly Garden.
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